Carl Petersson Plays Piano Concertos by Grieg and Evju

Carl Petersson plays with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kerry Stratton.

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COMPOSERS: Evju,Grieg
LABELS: Grand Piano
ALBUM TITLE: Grieg * Evju
WORKS: Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor; Piano Concerto in B minor – fragments; Med en vandlije, Op. 25 No. 4 (transcribed Evju); Ein Traum, Op. 48/6 (transcribed Evju); Evju: Piano Concerto in B minor
PERFORMER: Carl Petersson (piano); Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra/Kerry Stratton
CATALOGUE NO: GP 689

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This CD is a cabinet of curiosities, but all are of dubious musical value. The version of the Grieg A minor Concerto which we get here owes its existence to the friendship between Grieg and Percy Grainger, which led to a revision of the Concerto for a performance at the Leeds Festival in 1907. The two went through the manuscript adding expression marks, and after Grieg’s subsequent death Grainger went on adjusting it, leaving a score marked with three categories of emendation: changes by Grieg himself, changes suggested verbally by Grieg, and changes made by Grainger as a consequence of hearing Grieg play the work.

But it has to be said that in the result, as heard here, it’s hard to see what distinguishes Grainger’s version from anything one might hear in a ‘standard’ concert performance, since all pianists take liberties, and all find ways of putting their personal stamp on what they play. The first movement comes over more suavely than usual, and the emotion in the Adagio is somewhat muted; the final movement is perfectly efficient for most of its length, but ends by laying on the schmaltz with a trowel.

The Concerto by Helge Evju has been inspired by the two-and-a-half minutes of fragmentary ideas Grieg left for a second concerto: the fragments themselves are winsome doodles, but the Concerto goes through all the motions of a high-Romantic work without having any of the substance.

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Pianist Carl Petersson plays with conviction throughout, as he does the concluding Evju-Grieg song transcriptions. Michael Church